Launched in 1998, TaxACT has been a prominent name in tax preparation software, helping file more than 38 million returns since its inception. In 2005, TaxACT was the first to offer free federal software and free e-file to all Americans, and is currently the only free federal solution offering all e-fileable forms, which means you don't have to upgrade to an expensive product if you have more complicated taxes (think homeowners, self-employed, business owners, investors, farmers, rental property owners). Whether you’re doing your taxes for the first time or switching from another brand, TaxACT makes filing taxes easy to do and easy on your wallet.
TaxACT allows for some flexibility in your approach to preparing your tax return. If you're among the small percentage of taxpayers familiar with the tax forms you need, you can go directly into the lines of any form and input your information. But if you're like most taxpayers, just use the interview that breaks up tax forms into easy questions. TaxACT completes the necessary tax forms in the background as you answer questions. Unlike some solutions, TaxACT allows you to move freely around your return so you can finish at your own pace and in the order you choose. However, it’s easier and recommended for most people to simply follow the presented interview sequence.
The TaxACT interview is split up into 7 steps or sections, designed and written by accountants and CPAs to obtain all pertinent information for your return. It starts with Basic Info, during which you can import info from last year's return. The next step, Life Events, breaks down the tax impact of life changes such as marriage, children, selling your home and retirement. It's not a necessary step for completing your tax return but the easily digestible information can be helpful when answering questions about deductions and credits.
The next two steps are the Federal Q&A and State Q&A (if you need to file a state return), which are a series of questions about your income and tax situation to calculate all your deductions and credits. At the end of each section is an Examiner summary that breaks down your information so you can see the bigger picture and navigate back to specific topics if you so choose.
TaxACT saves your information automatically so you can start and finish at your leisure. If you want go back to a screen later on (maybe you need to find a tax form or receipt for example), simply add a Bookmark and click on the Bookmarks dropdown to return to that screen at any time.
When you've completed the Q&A, TaxACT Alerts checks your return for missing information, errors and potentially missed savings. You can rest assured knowing the results of your return are backed by TaxACT's Accuracy Guarantee.
There are several ways to access tax and technical help, starting within the actual tax return program itself. TaxACT does a good job at integrating help resources and functions, with linked help specific to the interview question you're on in the Help section on the right side of your screen. You can also type questions right below those links to search the extensive TaxACT Answer Center that draws from a rich database of FAQs, videos and IRS info. Thousands of answers are right at your fingertips.
From the Support site, you can directly access TaxACT Audit Assistant, which provides step-by-step instructions and information about any of the potential IRS tax notices. If you happen to need additional help, you can always contact TaxACT’s support team for free answers.
The Tax Info part of TaxACT's site also has some helpful info, including a list of the forms and info you need to do your taxes, calculators, a summary of tax law changes and IRS and state resources. The site includes an interactive calendar with key tax dates you should know, such as filing deadlines and due dates for quarterly estimated payments.
If you can't find what you're looking for in the Answer Center or on the Support site, you can email your question to TaxACT's tax and technical support team. It may take 1-2 business days to get your answer during peak days of the tax season, but it's common to receive a reply the same day and the answers are completely free. If you want to talk to a person on the phone, you can buy phone help for the entire tax season for a one-time fee of $7.99 (phone support is included with Deluxe and Ultimate editions).
TaxACT offers a wealth of perks to ensure its customers’ satisfaction, loyalty and expeditious returns year after year. Even if you file your federal return free with TaxACT Free Federal Edition, the company guarantees your maximum refund, accuracy and satisfaction. The ability to not only import last year's return, but also the option to use quick entry tools for inputting your Form W-2 and investment info could save you a good amount of time.
Healthcare reform and the related tax implications can be confusing, but TaxACT is helping its customers through those changes in a couple ways. Free Federal Edition includes a personalized HealthWatch report that explains how you may be affected by law changes in 2014, including the tax credit and subsidies to help pay for health insurance and the penalty for being uninsured, plus information for next steps.
If you're applying for college financial aid, you may appreciate TaxACT's College Student Financial Aid Worksheet. In the Reports section, you can print a worksheet with all the tax info needed for your FAFSA.
Lastly, TaxACT has a handful of invaluable tools, including: Donation Assistant, which allows you to get a maximum return on charity donations by providing audit-backed values for more than 1,200 commonly donated items; Compare to the Nation, which lets you know where your deductions stand in relation those taken by the taxpaying public in general (so you'll know if any particular deduction you're claiming is significantly disproportionate to the national average); and Joint vs. Separate Report, which will take your married filing jointly tax return and let you know if filing separately will produce a lower overall tax bill.
Free Edition is free to prepare, print and e-file your federal return. All e-fileable forms are included and your maximum refund, accuracy and satisfaction are guaranteed. Adding a state return is $14.99—less than half the price of other brands. It's risk-free to try thanks to the Satisfaction Guarantee.
TaxACT Deluxe is only $12.99 and includes extra imports (including investment, W-2, tax documents, Schedule K-1), Donation Assistant, unlimited Life Events, phone support, a Married Filing Joint vs. Separate analysis, depreciation and disposal summaries, TaxWatch for next year strategies and TaxTutor Guidance with expert explanations, tips and money-saving strategies. Deluxe is recommended for returning TaxACT users since you can import last year's TaxACT return.
Ultimate Bundle is the best value if you need to file federal and state returns. Online Ultimate Bundle is just $17.99 and includes everything from TaxACT Deluxe with the added ability to prepare multiple returns.
TaxACT offers its users inclusive packages at prices lower than most other online tax preparation services. Whether you start with Free Edition or upgrade to Ultimate Bundle, you’re offered a service rich with features and personalized assistance should you need it. And, if you’re required to file a state return, you’d be hard pressed to find a price lower than TaxACT’s offer. TaxACT is a sigh of relief for those who look to file their taxes as quickly and accurately as possible.